A man is in critical condition after he was pulled from the surf in Rockaway Beach by good Samaritans on Thursday evening. The 31-year-old swimmer and another man nearly drowned after they ignored the familiar red no swimming flags posted at Beach 86th Street and went into the ocean, according to the FDNY.
They both got caught in a riptide and needed to be rescued by people who were on the boardwalk and noticed the two men in distress. When first responders arrived at the scene, one of the men was unconscious and unresponsive. He was airlifted by NYPD aviation to Staten Island University Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition, according to the FDNY. The other swimmer refused medical attention from EMS at the scene.
The summer swim season came to an end on Sept. 10. Consequently, lifeguards are no longer on duty at New York City public beaches.
“People need to understand that the ocean can be incredibly dangerous, and you should never swim unsupervised,” Council Member Joann Ariola said. “Luckily, we avoided a real tragedy this week, and our first responders were able to reach these swimmers and perform an airlift before it was too late. I believe this is a true testament to the skill and the professionalism of those first responders, but I also think it highlights an issue that is all too common in Rockaway and in other beachfront locations in New York City: people need to understand the dangers of the ocean, respect those dangers and obey the signage if it says the beaches are closed. I am very grateful there were no fatalities in this situation, but next time we might not be so lucky.”